Well in the real World Cup, the final is going to be Holland v Spain. I'm not sure who I'd like to win, as I've always had a soft spot for the Oranje whilst the Spanish play the game as it should be played. Anyway enough of that football chat as I'm sure all of you are on the edge of your seat and want to see who wins my foodie World Cup.
Semi-Final: Japan 2 France 2 (France win 6-5 on penalties)
It took ages to decide who would win this. Both countries have a food culture that strives for perfection with an attention to detail albeit from differing perspectives. It was a close game and the battles all over the pitch were nothing short of outstanding. I'm thinking kobe beef v chateaubriand, sashimi v assiette de fruits de mer, and whale v ortolan. Just kidding about that last one.
I know many of you expected me to favour Japan but I love French food. It was a cuisine I properly discovered courtesy of being on expenses in Paris, a decade and more ago. It really opened my eyes to the food of the white man and I lapped it up. I haven't been to Japan and I'm sure my opinion would be very different if I had but the French prevail. Just.
Semi-Final: Australia 0 Spain 2
This is a far easier game to call. The Aussies have done well to get this far, when you consider teams like the USA and Italy have fallen by the wayside. But their run comes to a grinding halt against the Spanish. In common with many of their sports teams, it seems their food can't quite hack it at the highest level.
There's not much that the Aussies can do better than the Spanish. They may point at their greater multicultural diversity but does that matter when Spanish food is that good ? To put it another way, I'd rather eat chorizo and gambas than a snag and a shrimp from the barbie.
3rd/4th place: Japan 3 Australia 1
I wish they'd scrap this game in the real World Cup, no one wants to play in it and usually it's a game where squad players get a run out. For completeness, Japan beat Australia in a game where the likes of katsu curry and pie floater make their first appearances of the competition.
Final: France 1 Spain 2
Having eulogised about French food, they lose out to the Spanish – why ? It's because the Spanish are the lost tribe of Chinese. Before you think I’ve gone totally mad, consider the following similarities:
1) Small eats – both love small plates of food to share. The Spanish have their tapas whilst the Chinese have their dim sum and xiao chi. OK, the Spanish might drink beer rather than tea but hey the principle is the same.
2) Seafood – both love seafood and not just your common or garden fish and prawns, they both like weird stuff and go to a lot of trouble getting it. After all there is a reason why the Spanish call the stretch of coastline where percebes are found, Costa da Morte.
3) The Pig – both love all things porcine. To the Chinese, pork is the number one meat so much so that without a prefix, the word 'meat' in Chinese is understood to mean pork. Whilst the Spanish take great pride in their mighty jamon, and both races love suckling pig equally.
So I'm sorry mes amis Français, Spain lifts the World Cup in my parallel universe by dint of being the lost tribe of Chinese. But would they have won in a truly global contest with contenders such as China, India, and Vietnam, as discussed in the first post in this series ? Probably not but they are worthy of being top dog in Europe.
We'll now wait 'til Sunday to see if Spain can do the double and lift the football World Cup in addition to the foodie version. In the meantime, I'll have to pull my finger out and start work on my backlog of restaurant reviews !
Update - Spain win the double, as they prevail in the real World Cup ! Congratulations ! For a more detailed Food World Cup, take a look at the World Cup Food Challenge blog.